Da Best of eLBi 2: My Favorite Restaurants in Los Banos

It used to be that I thought of myself as someone who prioritizes yummy food the least.  Back in college when I was scrimping on my allowance so I could buy the clothes I covet, I used to scoff at people who wear dowdy clothes but spend so much on food.  I thought, “Duh, itatae lang din naman nila, dun pa nila inuubos any allowance nila!”

But I surprised myself when I found myself saying that I’d rather not eat if I don’t like the food, or losing appetite simply because the food bores me.

And then it hit me: during college, I was just blessed to be surrounded by restaurants serving delicious foods that still allowed me to save some of my allowance for clothes.

Fast forward to 2014:  I am already working, and I could even afford to eat in fancy restaurants in Metro Manila.  But you know what?  I often feel foolish for shelling out thousands of pesosesosesoses for foods that are actually a fraction of the cost of their counterparts in eLBi.

So guys, lemme share with you my favourite restaurants that are proudly made in eLBi:

(Note:  This is NOT an advertorial.  The restaurants I am featuring did not ask me to write about them, nor did/will I ask something in return for this.  I just really want to share their yummy foods to my readers)

 

1. Faustina’s

 
Faustina’s Restaurant opened in July 2010.  It is actually an homage to the owners’ late grandmother, the Habitos’ Lola Faustina (thus, Faustina’s) who left them with such good memories of family love and food.  With the help of the Habitos’ Interior Designer friend, Rinelle Villareal, they were able to conceptualise and include their Lola Faustina’s memory into the details of the restaurant.

 
I first started to get curious about Faustina’s when of our teachers at Brain Train was raving about the dishes of this quaint restaurant along Raymundo Gate.  He loved it so much that whenever there’s a reason to celebrate or whenever any one of us would muse out loud as to where to eat, he would always say, “Faustina’s!”

And then one evening, my friends and I found ourselves at Faustina’s.  I asked what the bestseller was, and the waiter suggested the silindro ribs.

 
It was love at first bite for me!  Everything was perfect—from the grilling to the barbecue sauce to the sukang pinakurat (I love vinegar on barbecue!)…and most especially the price!  This meal that is a symphony to my taste buds only costs P210.  I remember the time when my friends and I decided to have lunch out of the blue.  We went to this restaurant and when we saw that a similar viand cost almost P400, we just looked at each other and knew we were leaving and heading for Faustina’s.  Hahaha!

When you’re craving for something sweet naman, you should order Faustina’s blueberry cheesecake.  I’ve tried it (the silindro ribs was filling, but my appetite swore to me that my tummy still had space), and I loved it!

 
Other bestsellers (which I have yet to try—I can’t NOT order these two every time I go to Faustina’s eh!) include Faustina’s Pepperoni Pizza, Aussie Beef and Lamb Pies (trivia: the owners grew up in Australia), Spaghetti and Meatbombs, Creamy Shrimp Pasta, and Banana Choco Hazelnut Crepe.

Faustina’s Pizza

 

Faustina’s Creamy Shrimp Pasta

 
Truly, Faustina’s is a gem in Los Banos!  But seats at Faustina’s are just like the rarest of gems—Faustina’s is almost always jam-packed, sigh!  (Celine, palakihin n’yo ang restau n’yo please!)

 
(Faustina’s Restaurant is located at Lola J’s Building, 10278 Ruby St., Los Banos Subdivision, Los Banos Laguna.  Call them at 049 501-1509.  They are open everyday from 11am-8:30pm)

 
 

2. Gastronomeats

 
I have discovered Gastronomeats only recently.  I used to pass by it almost everyday, but I did not give it any second thoughts.  It looks very simple and plain, so I took it for granted. In fact, when my friend Zaira (the same person who brought me to Faustina’s) told me that our next dinner destination would be at Gastronomeats, I had to bite my tongue to keep myself from complaining.  And so there we went.  My doubts about the quality of food was heightened when I saw that even inside, everything was just so simple.  So I was not expecting anything, really.

I ordered their Oompa Liempo:

 
I was surprised that it actually tasted great!  I was expecting it to taste like our regular liempo at home (which also tastes great, by the way), but no, there was really an “oomph!” Hehehe.  Since it was my first time there and since I was also dining with my closest friends, I tasted what they have ordered.  And I loved them even more!

This is what my friend ordered:

 

Slabbed (Bacon Steak with eggs and fried rice)

I loved it!  The mild, smoky flavour of the bacon is perfectly complemented by the mild saltiness of the sunny side up eggs and fried rice.  My friend Zaira says it’s her favourite at Gastronomeats.  So the next time I went there with my friend Irvin, I ordered this as well.

However, when I tasted Irvin’s order—spicy liempo—I told myself that it, too, was delicious!

And so I ordered spicy liempo when I went there with Randy and Raviv.  Randy ordered Slabbed (which I got bits and pieces from), and ordered Sausage Fest for Raviv.  Just when I thought I was already confused with what to order next, I also loved Raviv’s Sausage Fest.  Waaaaah!!!

Three visits to Gastronomeats made me realize this: the owners really needed not to overwhelm its patrons with any kind of decoration—heck,  there wast even a tinge of the usual colour red that is said to whet people’s appetites—because the flavours of their meats would cover just about everything!

(Gastronomeats is located along Lopez Avenue, Los Banos, Laguna.  It is just in front of Centtro Mall.  Its contact number is 09175105215.)

 
 

3. Bonito’s

I only fully appreciated Bonito’s when we dined at Bonito’s and then at Abe and at Crisostomo only days apart.  That’s because when we dined at Bonito’s, Randy had their Kalderetang Batangas combo meal.  And he loved it a lot.  He was surprised to see that what he had—scrumptious beef “stewed for a long time in a garlic-onion-liver sauce” served with rice and iced tea/lemonade cost only P140!  Yes, P140 only!

 
Dishes such as this at Abe and at Crisostomo would be well over P300!  And when it comes to taste, Bonito’s is definitely not lacking!

Aside from this caldereta that I am raving so much about, Bonito’s also serves these mouthwatering dishes that I have yet to try (all images lifted from Bonito’s Bar and restaurant Facebook Page):

 
The best thing about Bonito’s is that it is spacious (relative to other restaurants in eLBi) and can accommodate lots of people.

 
However, food service is kinda slow.  I guess the staff get rattled because of the volume of people and of the orders that they receive.

(Bonito’s Bar and Restaurant is located at Oregano St. corner Lopez Ave., Demarses Subd, Los Baños, Laguna.  They may be contacted through 049 536 3255 or 09153154521.)

 

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I know that there may be other restaurants in Los Banos that are worthy of being featured here, but I may have not tried eating there yet…feel free to suggest where I should eat next time!  I would surely hate to miss out on anything that proudly made in eLBi!

 

Next Feature: My favourite street food joints in eLBi!

Da Best of eLBi 1: LB Love

It’s Los Banos Day on Wednesday.  Don’t bother knocking at our doorstep para makipiyesta. Aside from the facts that there will be no classes on that day and you will see a band on parade, no one would ever guess that we are celebrating our town feast.
 
Image lifted from www.lagunatravelguide.com

 

I am not really a fan of town feasts, but I feel like celebrating Los Banos Day this year.  At least on this blog (sorry, no handa pa rin.  Hehe).  I love eLBi and I really consider this my home even if I was not born here.  Actually, I realized that that is the only milestone in my life that Los Banos was not a part of.  Well, that and my grade school graduation.  For everything else, Los Banos was a witness: my high school and college days, my first love and first heartache, my (first and hopefully my last) marriage, my hits and misses on parenting, my growth as a teacher…and many more!  In fact, I don’t think Los Banos was just but a witness—Los Banos actually sculpted me to become what I am now.  It sharpened my previously shapeless edges, softened my previously jagged surfaces…and it still continues to hone me.

 

Randy would often remind me how blessed we are to be in a quaint community with the majestic Mt. Makiling looking over us.  And I don’t blame Randy—as an intellectual and a tree hugger, Los Banos is just perfect for him.

 

Pili Drive.  We pass by this every morning as we bring Raviv to his school.

 

 

But nature (literally) isn’t just what’s great in LB.  Nurture, too.  I often rave that the quality of our schools here are at par (or even better) than the expensive schools in Metro Manila—that’s because Los Banos is a highly academic community (thanks to UP), and people here put a premium on education.  Thus, bulok schools have no place here.  Academic excellence is the name of the game in Los Banos.  I guess that’s also the reason why the best ever high school entrance and UPCAT review centre was born here, ehem.

 

No, seriously.  I proved this further yesterday as we were saying our farewells to our students enrolled at Bonifacio Global City.  They—the students who  from Ateneo de Manila High School, Poveda, and La Salle Greenhills—could not leave without telling us how much they love Brain Train.  They told us how glad they are that they chose us, because they enjoyed learning (thus they had an easier time actually learning).  They got even more convinced that they went to ze best because when they talked with their friends who went to “others”: while their friends ranted about the other review centres, the Brain Train babies would rave about us.  Even Dodong told me how his heart was bursting with pride to be a part of an institution that is this loved by its clientele.

 

 

So anyway, now that we have established once again how great Brain Train is (ahihihihi), I want to tell the cyberworld, too, that aside from Brain Train, Los Banos has other gems.  Actually, Los Banos is a treasure trove of establishments that offer great services but at a fraction of its usual cost.  How come?

 

Here’s the thing:  because of UP, Los Banos is full of smart people who are relatively well-traveled (because many students are from other places, too).  But since most of the Los Banos populace are either students or are merely working at UP or its sister research facilities, (read: most of us are not businessmen or executives of multinational companies), we find it difficult to part with our money over overpriced food or stuff.  Especially those that are not worthy of our (or our parents’) hard-earned money.

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Wardrobe Diary #47: Familia Sundate (Oct. 6, 2013)

I was especially happy on this day, because our family got to do what normal families do on Sundays: make it all about God and family. See, our work entails us to work on weekends.  Not complaining here, because we are relatively from Monday to Friday.  And pasyal on weekdays has its perks, because that meant tourist spots and malls are not crowded.  But still, there’s a part of me that makes me long to have a special Sundate with my family.

For some reason, the Sundays of October free for Randy and me.   And I revel these Sundays. I make sure we at least attend the Sunday service.  But on this day, Randy learned that there was a back-to-back dog show in Tagaytay City!  Back when Randy and I were still bf-gf and our business wasn’t this huge, we had several Sundays off and we used to spend it attending and joining dog shows.  So even though we were still a tad sick from God-knows-what sickness the previous day (buuut, we still taught!), Randy and I got excited at the thought of being at a dog show again, even though we do not have any entry.

Here’s what I wore to church and then to our pasyal by the way:

momsterteacher wardrobe diary

And here’s a much closer look at the outfit details:

wardrobe diary details

  • Dress from Blessed Online Shop (this cost only P300+++!)
  • Leather sandals from Outland (I’ve recently rediscovered Outland!  I have forgotten how comfy and sturdy they are, not to mention affordable!
  • Two-way bag (can be shoulder and can be handbag) from Relic
  • Leather belt from a thrift shop Randy and I passed by in Cavite
  • Sunnies from Charles and Keith

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Restaurant Review: Probinsya Buffet Restaurant

Davao City is the best when it comes to satisfying one’s gastronomic cravings!  I have actually christened it as the Most Affordable Buffets City Capital of the Philippines.  Every first-timer in Davao I talk to raves about the eat-all-you-can restaurants that abound in Davao City!

But of course, even though there are plenty of eat-all-you can restaurants that do offer a wide array of food, you can’t be sure that these restaus actually care about the quality of the food they serve.  But not Probinsya Buffet Restaurant.

Facade of Probinsya Restaurant

Our plane touched Davao City at 7 a.m. Wednesday last week.  After dropping by my kababata Bubbles’ home to borrow her baby daughter’s car seat (it was because of her daughter’s christening + birthday celebration that we flew to Davao), Dad drove us to Probinsya Restaurant for breakfast.  Take note, naligaw pa siya sa paghahanap ha, pero hinanap niya talaga!

At the facade of the restaurant were streamers screaming that their breakfast buffet was just P168!

P168 for breakfast buffet

Just how far did our P168 go?  To a looooooong buffet table!

Probinsyana Restaurant Buffet Table

I was the first among us to approach the buffet table (napaghahalatang mas matakaw ako kesa kay Randy), and I was overwhelmed with the wide array of traditional Filipino breakfast dishes that greeted my eyes!

Boiled eggs, longganiza, corned beef (Is corned beef a traditional Filipino probinsya dish?  Nevertheless, I’m glad it’s part of the menu.)

Fried bangus…and other dishes I could no longer recognize…

Scrambled eggs, sinangag, and plain rice

May mami pa para mainitan ang tiyan! Perfect, for it was a rainy morning

There was even boiled yellow camote–Randy loved it!

Fried daing na bangus and dinuguan…very Filipino!

Filipino breakfast icon: pan de sal! Plus several palaman

Even with just a fraction of the above dishes, sulit na ang P168, right?  But I’m not even halfway yet!  There were different Pinoy vegetable salads (with matching bagoong, alamang, and suka dips pa ha!) [Read more...]

Valentine’s Randy-vous in Tagaytay Part 1

Last Sunday, I heard someone say that it is the women who love celebrating Valentine’s Day.  That may be true for most people, but not for us.  May I just say that I have the sweetest husband?

With the pile of work we have, I was willing to sit out this Valentine’s:  I was OK with just staying home, watching a movie on our TV and a nightcap.  But Randy insisted we have a date.  He told me that we should always celebrate Valentine’s like new, so-much-in love couples, not like an old, married, jaded-about-love couple.  Feeling so lucky that I married such a man,  I agreed.  I remembered the voucher I bought from Metrodeals last September (that was when I first discovered  Metrodeals–I was excited that I wanted to buy EVERYTHING): Tagaytay getaway at Las Ventanas for two for just P1,999, with free dinner, breakfast and massage!  Thinking that this was really a steal, I purchased it right away to save for a special occasion.  And the occasion called No-Plans for Valentine’s presented itself.  I called Las Ventanas last Friday with a small ray of hope that something would still be available on Feb. 13 or 14.  And what do you know, there were still slots for either night!  Randy and I decided to head to Tagaytay on the 13th and go home after lunch on the 14th.

Yesterday, I felt guilty leaving Raviv just with his nannies.  I wanted to bring him with us.  But we definitely could not have a romantic Valentine’s Eve and Day with him in tow, right?  The thought of bringing his nannies sprang into our minds, but when only Yaya Isay expressed outward jubilation about going to Tagaytay with us, Randy decided to leave Raviv home with strict instructions to everyone left (he wanted the other nannies to be excited to come with us).

We left at about 5 p.m. and arrived at our first stop at around 7 p.m.  First stop was dinner at Restaurant Verbena at Discovery  Country Suites.  Since it was a Valentine’s Eve dinner, I wanted fine dining.  We did not choose Antonio’s (most popular in Tagaytay) because we’ve already eaten there before.  Bago naman :)

On the way to Tagaytay….

Randy:  (condescending and nang-iinis na tono) Iba-blog mo ba itong date natin?

Me:  Oo.

Randy:  Naku dapat maganda ang mga sabihin ko kasi ikukuwento mo nanaman sa blog mo ‘yung mga pinagsasasabi ko (sabay tawa na nang-iinis pa rin).

Welcome to Restaurant Verbena!

The restau was cozy to begin with (country style), but made even cozier by the fact that it rained practically the whole day.  Plus the soft yellow lights really set the mood.  And since it was raining, there were quite a few patrons (Randy:  Nagpa-reserve ka pa, konti lang naman tayo!)  Soft yellow lights + rain + Tagaytay breeze + few guests + window near the cliff with foliage seat = melancholy mood. And melancholy mood is synonymous to romantic to me.

I love, love this ambiance!

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Restaurant Review: Isdaan Floating Restaurant in Calauan

OK, I know, this must be the millionth Isdaan Restaurant Review.  I rarely visit personal blogs but I’ve already seen a handful of blogs featuring it.  But I can’t help it:  Isdaan is worth mentioning.

As a Los Banos resident who frequents Sta. Cruz, Laguna, I’ve seen its facade a bazillion times.  Guess that’s why it took us sucha long time to actually visit it:  it is “just there”.

But on Tuesday, my Mom and bff Cristy Salem (whom we’ve been calling Mama Cristy since forever) were here.  As I’ve mentioned on my Raviv’s Roarin’ Jungle Safari First Birthday Party Part 3 entry, she’s one of the most generous person I’ve ever known.  Randy and I wanted to make sure she’d feel our love for her, thus despite our busy sched these days, we decided to bring her to Isdaan for dinner.  Joining us were Raviv’s Yaya Isay and Yaya Jocelle, plus my brother TJ, his wife Ruth, baby Yoona, and Yoona’s Yaya Tet.

Upon our arrival, I immediately was in awe of the big, booby mermaid statue.

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